Parties, coalitions in Kerala busy finalising candidates
Thiruvananthapuram: With the deadline for filing nominations for the April 10 Lok Sabha polls in Kerala fast approaching, political parties have gone into a huddle to finalise contestants for the 20 seats and start a high voltage campaign with local topics figuring as prominently as national issues.
While almost all 16 sitting MPs of Congress-led UDF are expected to be back in the fray, rival LDF is on the lookout for fresh faces for most constituencies, barring the four it won in 2009.
According to CPI(M) sources, veteran cine actor Innocent is to be fielded in Chalakkudy in central Kerala, won by Congress`s K P Dhanapalan last time.
A humorist, Innocent is also president of Malayalam cine artists association "AMMA" and party strategists think that despite his winnability,his candidature will also bring the goodwill of film fraternity to the LDF.
Two other prominent CPI(M) leaders to enter the fray are party politbureau member and sitting MLA M A Baby (Kollam) and Central Committee member and former minister P K Sreemathy (Kannur).
The party has decided field its four sitting MPs-- P Karunakaran (Kasargode), M B Rajesh (Palakkad), P K Biju (Alathur) and A Sampath (Attingal). The state committee is holding its meeting to finalise the list.
Actor Suresh Gopi, who essayed many an "angry young man" role in Malayalam, met Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad the other day, fuelling speculation that he might enter the poll arena in his home town Kollam or campaign for BJP. However, there was no confirmation on this either from the actor or the party leadership.
Prominent UDF contestants to be back in the fray, in all probability, are Union ministers K V Thomas (Ernakulam), Sashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram), K C Venugopal (Alappuzha), Mullapally Ramachandran (Vatakara), Kodikunnil Suresh (Mavelikkara)-all Congress - and E Ahamed of IUML(Malappuram).
The early election date for the state seems to have
jolted UDF as the coalition is still in the vortex of a serious internal issue with a section of major ally Kerala Congress(M) raising its pitch over the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats conservation.
The party, which relies heavily on the support of Christian settler farmers in the hilly areas, wants the Centre to issue a fresh notification on the Western Ghats panel doing away with the clause that identified 120 villages in the state as Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
A section in the Kerala Congress owing allegiance to Water Resources Minister P J Joseph wants the party to take a strong position on the issue and the state leadership is to meet soon to discuss the matter.
LDF has made it clear that the Western Ghats issue is one of its prominent campaign themes, along with generation topics like price rise and corruption both at the Centre and the state.
Congress leaders, however, sounded confident that the internal issues of the coalition would be resolved by the week-end and get into a virulent campaign against the rival.
Apart from national issues like secularism, stability and inclusive development, UDF is planning to put CPI(M) on the defensive over such sensitive local topics like the T P Chandrasekharan murder case, in which three CPI(M) local functionaries were recently sentenced to life imprisonment.
A CBI probe bas also been ordered into the "conspiracy angle" behind the politically sensitive murder of the Marxist rebel.
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